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HUDO urges govt to lift State of Emergency in southern Sudan

July 31 - 2020 KAMPALA
Army soldiers in Kadugli (File photo)
Army soldiers in Kadugli (File photo)

On Monday, the Sudanese Human Rights and Development Organisation (HUDO) published its report on human rights violations committed in government-controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in the first six months of this year.

HUDO attributes the continuation of attacks on residents and displaced people in the two southern Sudan states to the lack of change in the country’s peripheries after the ousting of President Al Bashir in April last year and the dissolution of his National Congress Party in November.

The visibility of the transitional government is generally limited to Khartoum but the other parts of Sudan were still governed by the state governors of the former regime, HUDO states. Furthermore, the State of Emergency declared by the former president is still effective in the conflict regions.

Also, “the dominance of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan’s political life”, the presence of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) militia and the acts of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in conflict areas “remain the same as before”, the human rights organisation states*.

According to HUDO, the violence in conflict areas “continued mainly because of the presence of the fully equipped RSF and PDF, and the absence of the central government.

“The former regime agents who used to ignore abuse and violations are still active within the public administration. RSF and PDF killed and injured many people by shooting them directly and sometimes they looted or confiscated property from civilians. But, in Khartoum the violations reduced significantly,” the report reads.

“Rights were violated in form of arbitrary arrests (security of persons), unlawful killing, denying people rights to fair trial (court) and rights of civilians within conflict areas (insecurity, abuse of authority and excessive use of power). Many times, the authorities (police in particular) refused or failed to carry out investigations of cases brought before them especially where RSF and PDF were involved. This is a challenge to good governance, Rule of Law, and an indication of impunity.”

The research was limited by various factors, HUDO says. Victims and witnesses were afraid to talk, “due to security threats”, the State of Emergency in South Kordofan and Blue Nile state is still effective, and the Covid-19 precautionary measures imposed in the country as well restricted the movement of the researchers.

The organisation reports the killing of 34 people in 20 separate incidents in the two states between January and June, by militiamen or by militants. At least six people were unlawfully detained.

Militiamen furthermore abducted and robbed people, including minors, in South Kordofan.

In an RSF attack on El Berdab village near the South Kordofan capital Kadugli in May, more than 2,000 people were displaced.

Early this year, three churches were torched in Blue Nile state, the report concludes.

Apart from disarming the militias in the region, HUDO urges the government of Sudan to lift the State of Emergency and enforce the Rule of Law in the two states and to respect its international obligations in safeguarding civilians in conflict areas.

Radio Dabanga reported on Wednesday that a number of people staged a protest in Kadugli in front of the state government secretariat demanding security and an “end to the bloodshed”, against the background of repeated violent incidents in the region. In May, Sovereign Council member Lt Gen Shamseldin Kabbashi admitted that the efforts to contain the security situation in South Kordofan are “slow and ineffective”.

* In June however, the paramilitary PDF, set up by the regime of Al Bashir, a few months after he took power in a military coup in 1989, were officially dissolved. The RSF militia which grew out of the Janjaweed militiamen who fought for Khartoum in Darfur since the war broke out 2003, was established in 2013. After the fall of Al Bashir last year, the RSF was officially integrated into the Sudan Armed Forces. At the same time however, the militia stays a force unto itself, commanded by ‘Hemeti’, who also is Deputy President of the country’s Sovereign Council.

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